On its surface, a group of excerpts from works created between 1997-2006 would be a nice spin down memory lane. But The VERY BEaST of SB Dance ends up being one of the freshest oddities to take place in Salt Lake City in quite some time.
It’s always interesting to see works revisited and danced by a cast different from the original, especially when they are brilliantly allowed room to breathe by choreographer Stephen Brown. Certain pieces changed significantly (like a solo from 2004’s Strictly from Hunger); others were hardly altered at all (including the performance opener featuring a red ringing telephone, pulled from 2001’s Frank’s Ticker).
One solo included from 2003’s The Bucket had a completely different aesthetic with dancer Juan Adalpe stepping in for Brown; the white confirmation dress and breaking movement on Adalpe’s smaller frame was a striking contrast to the original. Another revamped solo, from 1999’s Scampdance, bravely performed by Stevan Novakovich, saw a familiar naked cowboy strutting about with his strategically placed newspaper while the audience was treated to a newly penned political rant on gay marriage.
The amazing thing was that, for an evening-length performance culled together from 10 different works choreographed over a 10-year period, The VERY BEaST… is not only satisfying, it’s artistically reinvigorating, too. It’s nice to be reminded of a dedicated artist with a unique voice living among us who can regularly pull top-notch performances out of his company—especially when they might be completely exposed on stage singing “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” as Nathan Shaw experienced recreating one of the more memorable moments from 2000’s Waltz of the Dog-Faced Boy.
It was also an increasingly rare opportunity and pleasure to see Brown himself, joined by long-time cast member Liberty Valentine, step into the flashlight once again for the audience favorite from 1998’s Ballet Noir. Most importantly, it’s good to see that Brown’s choreography has clearly stood strong against that dating drag of time.
The VERY BEaST of SB Dance continues June 17-18 @ Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center